Throughout my childhood, it was very common to see the people in my family pick up the slack of another family member at any given time. I knew I could count on so many people in my life, and felt secure in knowing that would stick with me going forward. This post isn’t really about that sort of “count on” because I can, without a doubt, still count on all those same people.
I’ve written previously about part of being a good friend is to let others help you. Letting friends lend you a hand allows them to feel needed and that they’re adding value to your life. You can count on people like this in any given situation. If someone asks you if you need help, you should say “Yes” at least 90% of the time. I’m not talking about this type of “count on” either.
When your life is about to get busy, or maybe it already is, don’t expect to be able to add more on you plate because you have people there to pick up the slack. If you are constantly calling on others to help out, you may need to reevaluate the circumstances. It is okay to ask again and again if your in a time of crisis, babies are sick, adjusting to a new baby, someone had an unexpected surgery or hospital stay, but if grandma is over at your house for the twelfth time in a two week span… well, you’re smart, what do you think?
No one likes to help out more than grandparents, so all the grandma’s out there may actually be hollering at me right now. I just am asking everyone to please consider slowing down or cutting back.
Recently, I’ve started selling Usborne Books & More, while agreeing to run a bible study at our parish. I’m already apart of two other book studies. I have a husband and four kids. I run this blog. I offer photography work. I’m trying to ease into a homeschool routine. I’m keeping up with about 80% of the housework. And I know I’m forgetting other responsibilities. Here’s the thing though, out of all of these tasks I conquer, only the photography session require me to ask favors, or hire a baby sitter. I don’t even count on my husband for any of this. I ask him to stay with the kids during sessions, but if he can’t do it I’ve already got a back up plan.
Nothing I do is a success if I’m not putting my family first. Reading my long list of responsibilities above may sound contradictory, but I can assure it isn’t. Everything has its priorities. First up is family. They’re my focus day in and day out. Sometimes, I need to step away to do something for me, that’s usually when I retreat to read a book from one of my studies or I write in the blog. I’m never gone from the family scene for more than thirty minutes, but honestly I usually do my reading and writing when the kids are napping.
We find time to fit in little school lessons throughout the day. This may be easy since we’re mostly working on letters and their sounds or simple addition. We look talk about it all day long as we’re searching for letters on our adventures in the car, to the grocery store, or whatever is on our agenda that day. We usually do 10-30 minutes of sit down work before nap and before winding down for bed. We’ve read books during breakfast and lunch before, or we tell stories while we’re playing in the dirt outside. When you have littler ones, that is what homeschooling can look like.
I have my morning chores and I have my evening chores. Read about those here. I do them 97% of most mornings (I’m human) and 97% of every evening. This is my reset button. If I have chores to be done during the day, I will enlist the kids to help. Everyone but the baby is good at helping with something. The chores inevitably take longer, but we get a lot of quality time in. I feel kids like to feel apart of the team and giving them responsibility or even showing them how to get to that responsible mindset eventually allows them to feel good about themselves. The same goes for cooking, once I started letting our tantrum throwing three year old help with preparing meals in any small way, his undesirable behavior slowly crept away and out shined a happy boy.
Returning to the main thought, I can’t count on others to help me during these times, because our days are like a well oiled wheel if we’re going to get the work completed in any state of grace. I know I cannot add one more thing at this moment. I also know when is first in line to give up or set aside if I have a rough week, or something unexpected comes up.
The reason I can’t count on anyone has nothing to do with my pride. I will willingly take the help which is often offered to me. I have a team of lovely people who show me how to be a true friend by assisting me in my times of need. I wouldn’t survive without any of them. Some of those women, I don’t even know… you’ve read about Whitney right?
You may be reading this and wondering why I wouldn’t ask more of my husband, or why couldn’t he be counted on? He can. I don’t count on him because there’s plenty of nights or mornings he’s out of town with work. If I can’t get it all done when he isn’t around, then I need to change the order of things. I’ve written about some hard days of me doing it all alone here. Those days were challenging, and I’m thankful for the little life lesson that came with it. I’ve taken things off my plate, like Facebook scrolling, or trying to hustle around hurrying everyone out the door, or plenty of other small things that really added up. Like I’ve said, it is a well oiled wheel. We’ve been working on our routines for months and months. We learn through trial and error with the main goal being quality family time.
I know it sounds terrible thinking I can’t count on anyone, but it isn’t. It is my way of realizing what is really important. If I really can’t do it without asking for help, it may not be worth trying. Sometimes it is, but in my experience, counting on others for help when my husband was gone, meant struggling more because there was less flexibility.
My final thought… I really shouldn’t say I can’t count on anyone, because I’m counting on my children usually. I’ve taught them to be team players and they’ve risen to the challenge. This morning, I took all four of them to three clothing stores. They got in and out of the car three separate times with no promise of candy at the checkout, or trinkets from the toy area. We had planned to grab lunch and eat at the park, but the Terminex man called and we had to get home instead. They didn’t get upset (I was surprised by this one). We haven’t used Walmart Grocery pickup in months because they’ve been great helpers at the grocery store. I guess not counting on others meant teaching my children a hidden lesson. I didn’t even put it all together until now (I’ll have to add that to my blog post homeschooling desire part 2 here). They’re learning to be active members of a family, or any other small societal group.
I feel like this goes without saying, but I’ll say it just the same: I count on God all day, everyday. He is my rock. My everyday may not look ideal from the Lord’s point of view, but he’s always there trying to guide me (if I’ll listen).